WWF in Boston Garden (8.9.86) review
August 9, 1986
We’re in Boston, obviously. Hosts are Jesse Ventura and Alfred Hayes.
I’m specifically doing this show because of the Steamboat-Roberts match, which happens here. Also, I like to dip into full shows to see how everyone else is doing.
Bob Orton vs. Tito Santana
Orton and Piper have parted ways, so now Ace is the bodyguard for Adrian Adonis.
While a lot of this match is a chore, as they go Broadway, there are moments of sheer genius. Bob takes a header over the top rope (off a punch) and continues the bump over the rail, which he wipes out. The length of the match is the enemy though, and they keep going to rest holds. Considering they’re two talented technicians, the match comes to life when they leave the ring. While they’re inside, the urge is to grab a hold and stay in it. Speaking of which, they hit a chinlock some 22-ish minutes into the match and it lasts for far too long. Santana goes after the leg and Orton’s selling is epic. The way he tries to get to his feet and then collapses is outstanding. It reveals his tough guy character, and attempting to ignore the hold, but then the collapse being his body betraying him. Tito has Orton on the ropes at the finish with the bell ringing to signal we’re at 30:00. They had a killer 12 minute match, with 18 minutes of rest holds in it. It’s extremely tough to recommend because of all the boring holds but the match had great moments. Call it around **¾. A long time for that.
Mr X vs. Lanny Poffo
Mr X, naturally, hails from Parts Unknown. I initially suspect he’s a luchadore but it’s actually Danny Davis. While his official job in the company is referee, he’s been slyly doing this in his spare time. There was a 3CW referee who did the exact same thing under the name Malice Mascarado.
Gorilla mocks Mr X for wearing lifts. Monsoon has no love for short kings. Poffo is his usual weird self. He has some interesting counters and moves but is also an oddball. His pre-match poem is rubbish. Gorilla refers to him as “the Leaper”. Classic Monsoon. Poffo finishes this with a flipping senton! It was not too far from Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb. In 1986.
Pete Doherty vs. Dick Slater
Gee, I wonder what part of this great nation Dick Slater hails from? Crowd boo him. The WWF hoovered up everyone in the mid 80s, whether they fit into the WWF plan or not. They just needed bodies for the mass of shows they were running. Gorilla claims Pete is 0-957 in his career. The real Streak. I doubt he’s had that many matches, but he’s probably got at least 500 Ls. That’s more losses than Elon Musk takes every day on Twitter. Pete is doing a comedy match and Slater is trying to have his match. It’s a brutal clash of styles. Pete’s awful clothesline is one of the worst spots I’ve seen in the entire decade. All Doherty matches should be sub-2 minutes in my opinion. Awful, awful wrestling match. Slater wins and Pete is 0-958.
Dick Slater lasted until mid 1987 before leaving. We’ll probably see him once more after this, jobbing on SNME in November. The whole run was a creative failure and Slater never fit into the WWF.
Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Hart Foundation
The heels have a new manager; Slick. He’s replaced Fred Blassie as, sadly, Blassie’s health was declining, and they needed to phase him out. I will miss Blassie, who was a frequently humorous part of the show with throwaway comments and he had real skill as a manager. It’s a shame he never got a big babyface run like Lou Albano got. Hart Foundation are faces but only for this match, as they’re the more liked of the two heel teams. One would suggest it’s to test the waters for a proper face run for them. A turn which wouldn’t happen until 1988. Gorilla has already latched onto Bret and calls him the “Excellence of Execution”.
This is Sheik’s last year as a proper full-time wrestler, and it shows. He’s only 43 but that tour schedule has worn the man down. The crowd chant “USA” while Bret needs their support. Man, no wonder he turned heel in 1997. They run formula on Bret and Anvil is incredibly effective as the hot tag. How did they not turn these boys face after seeing this? Sheik trips Anvil up and Volkoff falls on top for the win. This was good. The Harts potential as top babyfaces was here for all to see. I’m a little staggered they left them heel for another two years. **½
Special Midget Attraction Match
Cowboy Lang vs. Lord Littlebrook
They couldn’t help themselves and even poached these guys from AWA. This being WWF, they can’t have a midget match without referencing Sky Low Low. New York has a reputation for being the Land of the Giants, which means the little guys are not over in the slightest. It’s quite the contrast to AWA, where the crowd would very into this kind of action. “They’re fun people” claims Hayes of the competitors.
The match is way too long. They run some comedy bits, like Lang getting stuck in the buckles, them biting each other and the ‘ref catches the midget’ spot. Lang wins with a rolling cradle. If you’ve seen one of these matches, from this era, you’ve basically seen all of them. They ran the same spots in every territory.
Tony Atlas vs. Ted Arcidi
Oh, good lord. If you ever wanted to see a match that defined New York Style and showcased steroid abuse in the 1980s, this is it. It’s almost like watching a cartoon. Hey, kids, you wanna see a test of strength? No? Uh oh, we got nothing else brother. Gorilla absolutely rinses both guys for being horrible. Ted hits a brutally shit clothesline and Gorilla is done pretending to care. “Well, that won’t hurt at all”.
Hayes describes Arcidi’s efforts as “lacklustre”. Yeesh, that’s basically calling him “fucking shit” on the air. Arcidi, who was never really a wrestler, was exposed here. Atlas cannot carry anyone, let alone another big old roidhead. A contender for worst match of the year. I’ve shortlisted Arcidi for worst wrestler of the year based on this performance. He’s so bad. “Maybe they shouldn’t have put the ring up to begin with” says Gorilla in withering fashion.
Jake Roberts vs. Ricky Steamboat
The story so far; Steamboat took exception to Jake throwing his snake onto his dead opponents at the end of his matches. So, they went to have a match and Jake just drilled Steamboat with a DDT on the outside and chucked the snake on him. Steamboat is now out for revenge. To say this is a contrast to the last match would be an understatement. In this match, everything feels like a struggle.
Jake makes a point of blocking Steamboat’s chops by sticking his forearms in the way. As Steamboat tries to increase the pace of the match, Jake slows it back down by sliding outside.
Jake keeps going for the same block so Steamboat switches to punching him in the guts. Jake’s hands come down and in goes the chop! The next wrinkle in proceedings is Jake ducking a chop and Steamboat chopping the post.
This leads to Jake relentlessly assaulting the injured hand. They work in a ref bump, which frustrates me somewhat. It does show Jake’s desperation to stop Steamboat’s comeback but there are other ways to do that. Jake gets in charge, revives the referee but Steamboat rolls him up for the pin. ***¾. This was arguably Jake Roberts’ best match. From the defensive early going, to the hand assault, to the frustrations near the end that lead to him losing. Ricky’s celebration is cut short by a DDT. This feud must continue!
Randy Savage & Adrian Adonis vs. Hulk Hogan & George Steele
What a collection of talents this is. Two genuine top tier stars and two oddball midcarders with outlandish gimmicks.
Hogan, keen to support his teammate, noshs on a turnbuckle pad. What? This is one of the goofiest matches you’ll ever see. Hogan seems relieved because this is a night off. This is the kind of match where you don’t even have to take a bump and it’ll still get over. Adonis is looking rough here. His weight gain is well documented, but he still kept that ability to work. Here he looks sluggish as well as heavy. Adonis vs. Steele isn’t the delight that every other pairing is. Steele also struggles. This is very much the twilight of his career. Savage backdrops a charging Adonis, as a defensive measure, and Hogan legdrops Adrian for the pin. This was done for shits and giggles. The crowd had a nice time, and it was a breezy ten minutes at the wrestling. **½
Some solid undercard action, albeit peppered with shit like Ted Arcidi and Pete Doherty, ended by a great Steamboat-Roberts match and a fun main event. WWF in 1986 is a good time but the sheer number of guys they needed to pad out multiple shows in multiple cities is chaotic for the undercards. Guys like Dick Slater and Tony Atlas have no business being on Vince’s 1986 cards.